Surgeons at the United Kingdom’s North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust are pioneering a novel technique for breast reconstruction that has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of women affected by breast cancer.
Over the past 12 months they have treated 22 patients with the cell enriched breast reconstruction procedure. Cell enriched breast reconstruction is a minimally invasive procedure that addresses the lack of reconstructive options for patients who have undergone a mastectomy, partial mastectomy or lumpectomy following a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Cell enriched breast reconstruction rebuilds the breast using a patient?s own fat tissue and naturally occurring regenerative cells. Liposuction is used to remove fat from a patient?s stomach or thigh. The fat is then divided into two portions, one of which is processed to extract the regenerative cells within the tissue. The cells are then combined with the remaining fat tissue to be re-injected back into the patient?s breast.
Surgeons Pud Bhaskar and Colm Hennessy have been working with www.cytori.com” target=”_blank””>Cytori Therapeutics, the American company that has developed the Celution? System, a medical device that enables the extraction of regenerative cells from the patient?s fat tissue.
?When women have a breast lump removed, some feel they can?t move on while they have this visual reminder. This approach to breast reconstruction is less radical than other techniques; it can be done as a day case and, most importantly, patients are seeing amazing results? said Mr Bhaskar, specialist breast surgeon at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.?The advantage of this new technique is that use of fat-derived regenerative cells is thought to increase the survival rate of the transplanted fat by improving the flow of blood and nutrients needed to keep tissue alive. This allows for a more predictable outcome than the use of fat alone, which has shown a tendancy to re-absorb into the body or die, leaving hardened lumps.?
Forty-eight year-old Joyce Longmoor from Hartlepool, a town and port in North East England, is one of the patients who have benefitted from the new technique. Mother of two Joyce said: ?I found out I had breast cancer in my right breast in December 2003. I had a lumpectomy, followed by a mastectomy and reconstruction in January 2004. However my breast became mis-shapen and I was offered this procedure to correct it.?
?After the fat grafting was done in June 2009 I had one night?s stay in the hospital but I was back at work in about 10 days,? said Joyce, who works in a sandwich shop in Hartlepool. ?The cell enriched breast reconstruction feels much more natural than a solid implant. Twelve months on, I?m extremely happy with the results and have had no problems with any of my follow-up scans.?
?The natural feel of the breast which had cancer in it makes me feel normal. I think this procedure could help lots of women who have had cancer. I?m very grateful to the whole team for the care I?ve received.?
Commenting on the procedure, Bhaskar added: ?We?re pleased and proud to have been the first trust in the region to be able to offer this to women. Previously women who?d had breast cancer were often left with uneven breasts and we could see this was having a profound effect on some of them. We?re absolutely delighted with the results.?